The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    cmaukonen's picture

    Energy Efficiency and why we don't have it.

    I'll admit it. I'm a geek and a big fan of Nicola Tesla. He is to my mind one of the most prolific and advanced inventors of the 19th and 20th century. I would also say that he was way ahead of his time. His lists of inventions not only includes electricity and electromagnetism but also turbines and submarines and florescent lighting. There are very few of his ideas that we don't use today in some form or another. His ideas concerning the ionosphere have only recently been investigated by engineers and physicists.

    But Tesla was also very interested in efficiency having come up with ways to transmit electrical power and also new more efficient turbines. But he had problems in getting his ideas funded quite often. Which is not surprising since if one was a banker heavily invested in energy production and use industries, you would want ways of using more - not less.

    And this I think is one of the major problems with our national energy policy. Not only do we need different ways go generating energy, we need more efficient ways of generating it and utilizing it as well. But this runs counter to our capitalistic system.  One thing that comes to mind is photovoltaic cells. Right now not very efficient as they make use of only a small part of the light spectrum.  Relatively inexpensive individually but you need a large number of them to generate any power to speak of.  There have been strides and discoveries that would increase the efficiency of these cells. Such as way way to make them generate electricity from nearly the full wave of the light spectrum.

    But think about this. Solar cells are pretty much a one shot sell. Once those who want them and can afford to use them have them, that's pretty much it. They do not wear out and need little or no maintenance.  Unless they are physically
    inoperable, they do not need replacement.

    And electric vehicles.  We have the ability to make very efficient ones and batteries to run them on. As well as ways to recharge them while driving. However the more efficient the technology the less energy is wasted on ware and the less likely it is to fail prematurely.  And since the only way to make money is to sell more of a product and not less, efficiency runs counter to most business models.

    And this is the rub. We desperately need to make the best use of the energy we have and find new more efficient ways of generating it.  But to do so would have economic ramifications that run counter to our capitalistic system.

    So something has to give.


    As a small note, I've read that solar panels are being stolen right off people's roofs.

    Is that good or bad?

    Interesting Donal. I had not heared that but it does not surprise me. No not at all.



    Efficiency isn't a motivational factor to consider when determining future profit expectations. That's because efficiency is mutually exclusive to demand. In business terms, effieicency means longer life expectancy before the item breaks down and needs to be replaced. So if a 10 year old automobile is still running like it was just driving off the lot why would the consumer need a new one? Built-in obsolescence is what we're offered and accept. To change that would require business to make their entire profit at the time of sale instead of waiting a few years and letting the wear and tear of everyday use work its magic. It's the expectation of large increases in revenue in the short run rather than the long haul that leads to reduced can't make money off something that's not broken and needs to be replaced.

    I rest my case.

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